The stories he was telling me didn’t even seem real. Senior citizens weren’t supposed to act like that.
Condo association meetings are often a source of heated discussion. But threatening new residents with choking by electric cord and no one allowed to disagree! Even though I believed what I was being told, it wasn’t actually real on my radar–it seemed more like a frightening fuzzy nightmare.
In later years I moved across the country into the same condo compound. Knowing the decade of abuse I tried to be a positive ambassador to everyone–smiling and greeting each person I saw.
I noted early on that some older folks (especially men) just stared at me or avoided me.
Some time later I was in the laundry room chatting with my son and his partner while they did the wash. They kindly gave me the only chair and one of them eventually perched on top of an empty drier while we talked.
Suddenly an old guy (who used to be a security officer I think) darted in, smashed both hands real hard down on the machine and screamed, “You’re going to ruin the machines!” (I guess he didn’t think banging all his weight on them would hurt.) When he saw me sitting down, he turned around and left suddenly.
I jumped to my feet and went toward him. He seemed quite shocked to find me there! (I’ve always heard that abuse flourishes best in privacy, as throwing the light on observation takes the wind out of its sails.)
My son and I followed him a few yards. He left. It seemed my witnessing the bullying made him lose interest.
Many months have gone by. I still greet everyone with “Good morning” etc. but since then he avoids me–having no eye contact.
My son and his partner called and said this same older guy was going around the clubhouse, trying the doors and looking in , seeming to disapprove — harassing them as they watched a TV program.
The rules say it’s available till 10 p.m. and it was not yet that time. I walked out and observed him a while. Then I walked up into his line of vision. When he saw me he turned and left. I followed for 6-8 feet saying, “It’s a nice evening out here.” He seemed surprised and turned back to see who it was, said nothing when he realized it was me, said nothing, then moved away very quickly.
Butting the Arm
Another day I saw this senior bully walk toward my son on the sidewalk and veer toward him to gouge at him with his arm — leading with his elbow and throwing his weight against my son. Then he saw me and quickly left.
The Laundry Room – Again!
My disabled husband enjoys being able to do the laundry. He goes early, takes water, a book, and a stool to sit on while the wash is processing. One day the same man from above marched into the laundry room, yelling, “This is a laundry, not a reading room!” Now my husband was not bothering him in any way. In face he scooted as far out of the other guy’s way as he possibly could. We have made a decision to not “feed” the bullies by ignoring when possible. Thank goodness, after some grumbling with no responses from my spouse, he left.
Another day on May 23, 2014, as my husband was doing the wash the same older man grabbed both driers. My husband reminded him that the rules allow one drier per person and was answered emphatically with, “I’m using two!” (There are only 2 driers so my husband had to wait almost an hour to have his turn.)
We make every effort to live together as neighbors, yet this particular man continues to harass us as a family. Since he seems to have the support of the Board of Directors, options are limited. However, knowing that abuse thrives in secrecy, the option I favor is to shine a light on it.
Copyright 2014 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.